Hoping for rain before winter hits

Simon Lee is watching the heavens for rain, as yet another drought beckons.

The Mendip Hills Station farm manager is no stranger to drought, having survived three years of dry conditions from 2015 to 2017.

‘‘With a drought, you don’t know when it’s going to break or take hold even more,’’ Mr Lee said.

‘‘As a farming community everyone is going quite well, I feel. Everyone is pretty well versed on what to do, having been here before.’’

After two years of favourable conditions, Mr Lee said he had a supply of supplements on hand to get him through and he ‘‘bit the bullet early on’’ with feeding out and grazing young stock off the farm.

Mendip Hills Station is located near Parnassus, north of Cheviot, which was getting particularly dry.

But Mr Lee said there was still time to recover before winter set in, but any rain would need follow up rains to get back on track.

‘‘If we get two inches (of rain) in a couple of weeks, then we probably wouldn’t be having this conversation.’’

Mr Lee’s local Cheviot A&P Show went ahead as scheduled on March 14, which was a good opportunity to catch up with other local farmers.

‘‘There’s different pockets. When I talk to other farmers, Kaikoura was quite dry for a while and then they had some rain and Hawarden has been dry too.’’

Mendip Hills Station is a 6200ha high country property running sheep, beef and deer.

While the beef cattle and deer were being managed on farm for now, sheep numbers had been reduced from 16,000 down to 13,000, with young stock grazing off-farm.

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